Ocean Subsurface Tubes

The Hyperloop is a great idea brought back to life by Elon Musk, but it didn’t take long before he realised that tunning these tubes above ground wasn’t feasible, due to the multitude of government jurisdictions, and that existing highway corridors couldn’t be followed at highspeed.

I anticipated this when it was first announced, and tried to contact the various companies trying to develop the engineering for the idea. But I never got a reply, so I’ll publish it here instead.

I watched What If We Built a Road Around the World? today. In it, he writes off Australia as having stretches of bridge too far. But I knew the solution, the same one for Hyperloop. This motivated me to write this today.

If tubes were submerged 50-100 meters below the ocean surface, ships would pass over without any trouble, and storm activity wouldn’t have an impact. They would be neutrally buoyant being made from heavy strong materials, tethered to the sea bed where possible, and may have propellers to counter-currents in-between.

I’m sure there would be more challenges such as ship anchors, but that comes down to engineering detail.

The tube would be built in segments in factories on land and pushed directly to sea. This would make the tubes cheaper to build than above water bridges and seabed tunnelling, plus they would be resellable to be redeployed somewhere else.

So these tubes could be cheaper than bridges for longer lengths (let’s assume > 5km), making it possible for road travel around the world.

But that’s not all. Being in the ocean means deployment in international waters which would eliminate a lot of red tape. The tubes could also support communications, electricity, and oil pipelines.

They could be air-evacuated for hyperloop type travel. And there are many interesting places they could be deployed. Such as on the west coast of the US for North-South travel, also to bypass the Darien Gap, to connect New Zealand to Australia, and Australia up to South-East Asia. With all the islands in the Pacific, there may be an economical route across the Pacific, but a full Atlantic crossing should also be feasible with the higher European-American demand.

I don’t have the money or time to build this, but I hope to travel from Sydney in San Francisco in a few hours one day.

 

Shorter Work Weeks – A forgotten lever for the Automation Age

It was close to the time of the industrial revolution, when a trade union in England lobbied for 888, 8 hours for work, 8 hours for recreation and 8 hours for sleep. It’s important to note here, that the industrial revolution made quite a few artisans unemployed, but with the wealth from the automation, made this policy change possible.

Hey Elon Musk, Artificial Intelligence will not be bad like you say.

It’s everywhere in the media at the moment [2017-02-19]. Elon Musk crystal balling doom and gloom about automated intelligence, when he’s in a country made rich by automation.

The thing is, the less we do robotic mundane things, the richer economies get, and the more human we become. Please, watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsACeAkvFLY&t=616s, it’s very well articulated.

Now, I have covered all this before in my previous blog article [Robots The Working Class], and there will be pockets of mass unemployment, where Government policy has propped up flailing businesses, but overall, this transition will be quite smooth and again hugely beneficial.

But I have continued thinking about this, and made an important realisation: We need to continue to reduce our work week hours, to keep most people in some sort of traditional employment.

Back in the industrial revolution, this realisation took a while, and required a workers revolt (more about the hours, than sharing the jobs). The sooner Government masters this dusty old lever of working hours, the better.

Rather than campaigning for unemployment benefits, where there’s the damaging problem of those bludging off others, I believe Government should continue to reduce the maximum hours in the work week, and keep more people employed.

This would start in the primary and secondary industries which are being disrupted the most by automation. And would begin as a reduction of another half an hour every 5 years, and increase this pace as needed.

A lot more research needs to be done here, but this will be required as we leave the information age, into the automated age.

(This was written without much review, this article will need more consideration, editing, and I’m hoping to research this whole domain of the work week more and more. BTW, workers might get paid more as their work week reduces, so their pay is the same.)

Food Forever?

What if we could save our spoiling food before it was too far gone? I often have half a litre of milk which spoils at the office and I have to tip it down the sink.

I’m no biochemist, so I’m hoping this idea finds a nice home with a real scientist who either debunks it or points the way forward.

Could we have a home appliance which could UHT leftover milk that we can use later or donate?

Are there other foods which could be preserved in such a way? I’m guessing most would be an ultra heat process. Like an autoclave, you need to kill all the bacteria with no regard for taste. If it’s meat, it might be tough, but it would at least be a better pet food than what’s in a can.

Problem?

Geelong has a clean slate

I hope you’re done. Q&A was your last chance to detox from any doom and gloom you had left.

The loss of jobs, particularly at Ford, is not a pleasant experience for retrenched workers, but there’s no changing the past. The fact is Geelong now has a clean slate to dream big, and driverless electric vehicles is a perfect fit for the future of manufacturing.

On Q&A last night, Richard Marles was spot on, describing the automotive industry as one of our most advanced in supporting technical innovation in Australia. But ironically, the industry together has missed the boat and was always on a trajectory with disaster.

I have been watching the industry, since 2010. I have observed the emerging phenomenon of the electric vehicle and the needful but lack of interest by our local automotive industry.  I have realised any automation is to be embraced despite the unpleasant short-term job losses. And still we’re about to miss a huge opportunity.

The public forum is full of emotion, desperation, finger pointing, and frankly ignorance.

Geelong, we have a clean slate.

Kindly watch this video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqSDWoAhvLU, it’s all Geelong needs to drop the past and grasp the future, share it with your friends and call up all the politicians you know. It’s been there the whole time, and this vision for Geelong is all we need to forget our sorrows. You won’t understand unless you see the video. We need to act now.

I have covered Electric Vehicles comprehensively in the past, but they’re today’s reality. We need to aim higher. Do Geelong even know anything about driver-less cars?

People are immediately cautious of change, which is why the technology needs to be tested and tested here in Geelong. This will be a great focal point for our retraining efforts. Imagine cheap transport and independence for the elderly and disabled. Cheaper, safer and faster deliveries. Reduced traffic congestion and elimination of traffic lights – no stopping! Cars that drop you off and pick you up will park out of town – what car parking problem? What will we do with all those empty car park spaces in the city? More green plants and al fresco dining?

But most importantly zero road fatalities. If this is the only reason, it’s all we need.

They are legal in California today. What stepping stones will we take to legalise fully driverless cars in Victoria? These massive technology companies will only move next to hospitable markets. Who is talking to Nissan and Tesla about building the next generation of electric driverless vehicles in Geelong? We have been given a clean slate, there are too many exciting opportunities around to waste any more time on self-pity!

Oh and trust me when I say, that’s just the tip of the iceburg – I’m not telling you everything, find out for yourself. Click all the links found in this article for a start, it’s what they’re for.

Hint: There’s more to come from me, including the idea to start a “Manufacturing as a Service” company for Automotive, just like Foxconn does for electronics in China, inviting the Ford/Alcoa workers, their investment, GRIIF investment, outside investors and Tesla. There’s lots more work to do, but it’ll be worth it.

Some more videos you should really watch:


What the… Payroll tax?

I didn’t really notice the GST debate, except being annoyed at all prices increasing when GST was introduced (I was in High School). It turns out the a major reason for it’s introduction was to eliminate many state taxes. One of these taxes being Payroll tax….

Have a look: http://www.sro.vic.gov.au/sro/SROnav.nsf/LinkView/8AFF7B9FB4EB3733CA2575D20022223D5DB4C6346AF77ABBCA2575D10080B1F7

It turns out that if I employ too many people I will have to pay the state 4.9% tax on all the gross wages paid to my employees – including Superannuation! Not only is this a disincentive to employ, it’s also yet another administrative burden which limits growth. I hear it all the time, that ultimate success requires flexibility and scalability – Payroll tax is an ugly and unnecessary burden.

Sure we can’t just pull such revenue out from under the states, but it can be replaced with revenue from another more efficient tax – such as GST. At just 10% our GST is relatively low compared to other countries, in Europe some countries have a GST or VAT of 25%.

So why not simply increase GST? Consumers, AKA voters are the end-users and effectively the ones who pay the tax. Even though consumers can ultimately pay less in the long run, because the companies no longer need to pay payroll tax, the whole economy changes. Smaller business that didn’t previously pay Payroll tax are effectively charging their customers more, because they cannot discount from regained revenue from a dropped tax. Small changes to the rate over a long time may work best with matched reductions in payroll tax in the states. But in summary GST rate increases are political poison for non-business owning voters.

Another issue is fraud. As GST increases, the returns on VAT fraud become greater. Countries such as Sweden (25%) and the UK (20%) are subjected to simple but hurtful frauds which effectively steal from GST revenue. It basically works by having a fake company be liable to pay GST, and a legitimate company entitled to the return. The fake company goes bankrupt. As the GST rate increases, the amount of payback to such frauds increases, encouraging more incidents. It seems that any macro economic change, either short term (Government Stimulus) or long term (Tax Reform), opens the door for corruption and rorting. If the GST rate is to be increased, the right legislation needs to be in place to prevent such fraud.

So in the end the ultimate way for a business to overcome Payroll tax is to innovate good products which provide a comfortable return and innovate inside the business to improve internal efficiency, reducing the need to hire as many staff resulting in the ability to maintain a competitive edge.

Can we centralise auto-cooling/heating?

Imagine in 10 years, you stop your car (electric), a robot system swaps your depleted battery for a new one and also swaps an LN2 (Liquid Nitrogen) canister. So why would we want a cold canister of LN2? Why not just turn on the old A/C? This idea comes as an opportunity as result of possible changes. 1) Emergence of electric cars, 2) the resultant reduction in parts, 3) The need to conserve energy, 4) Regular stops at a fuel depot.

Even today, we all stop at a servo to pick up fuel, and can potentially implement such as system. An A/C compressor in our car cannot be considered to be as efficient as a domestic reverse cycle A/C unit or an industrial heat pump. So if there was a system to distribute “COLD” and “HOT” rather than making it on the drive, we would save resources and  money. But with today’s system, we already have an excess of heat from the combustion engine.

It’s undeniable that we’ll be moving away from OIL based fuels toward a more efficient electric system. We’re running out of OIL and electricity is so much easier to transmit. Let’s not start on the reasons why Hydrogen is a bad idea – let’s just have one energy transmission system – electricity.

As I’ve said in the past, when you convert to an electric car, you don’t need a radiator, clutch, gearbox, gaskets, timing chains, conrods, transmission fluid, engine oil, large brakes, flywheel, sump, pollution gear, filters, heavy engine block, fuel pump, spark plugs, fuel injectors, valves, …….. Just batteries, a regulator and two or more electric motors. That is of course until you want to stay cool in summer – in an electric car you need a separate motor to run the A/C compressor. Or warm in winter – you now need an electric radiator. Both of which are extra expensive components which drain precious battery power.

My ideal vision for an electric car, is not one that uses dorky inductive paddles to recharge your batteries – that’s so 1900s. The best idea I have seen for this is to battery swap. You can be in and out like an F1 pitstop! I guess fuel stores want you to consider their amazing multi-buy deals – but they’ll have to find a way for you to order from the car 🙂 Of course, you can still recharge at home, but home-charge will never be scalable. As batteries get more efficient and people can store more energy and therefore have faster cars, they’re going to need to recharge faster – something that a household single phase is going to struggle with in the future. Wiring up service depots with more power (and maybe a token solar panel or two) is more likely.

Such a power depot will also be able to operate a small LN2 producing heat pump. It only needs to be run (in Geelong anyway) during summer. As I said at the start, when the futuristic robot changes your batteries, for about $2 it also changes an LN2 canister or for heat a molten salt container? Maybe the hot side of the heat pump can be used to warm up pies 🙂

You would have a simple cat-sized (I panicked)  radiator which would take the LN2 (or heat source) and apply the desired amount of thermal transfer. It would actually cool better than an A/C too. By the way, storing “COLD” in LN2 takes up much less room and weight than storing the energy in a battery to run a small A/C unit in the car. Also, you won’t need to re-gas your A/C every whenever saving you thousands. Where I live, it only gets too hot in summer – so why pay thousands for an A/C unit in your car that you’ll only use a few times a year?

Let me know what you think.

http://www.costhelper.com/cost/cars/car-air-conditioning.html

Redundant Trucks – Vital Rail

It’s amazing. Just a few days ago I was driving home, thinking that they never have adverts for freight trains – I just saw one, QT transport or something. What a co-incidence! Or maybe Unilever just bought them out. Of course there is a reason I noticed the absence of the ads. As you can probably tell from the rest of my blog, my mind often drifts into various topics and transport is one of those that I have been contemplating. With the dangers of road trains, efficiencies of rail, increasing road congestion and talk surrounding the environment (let’s focus on the pollution for a change and not just carbon), it’s a wonder that there is no tactical push to consolidate to rail.

Of course we can’t have rail going down every street – that’s where trucks come in. However, Australia has an extensive rail network which is perfect for intercity and interstate transport (I acknowledge that sea freight is also more applicable for interstate as well for larger items). So why do we use trucks in such situations? Why are truck drivers sent on long continuous hours behind the wheel  away from their families, when there’s an alternative? These are all questions which I’m sure have a wide spectrum of answers, ranging from monopolies in the truck logistics medium and perceived convenience for customers to government regulation and leadership in these matters. Knowing the answers to these questions will help us fix the problem.

Lets consider one reason being the familiarity of the truck medium. You see trucks everywhere, you share the road with them, and understand how they operate – they’re like your car but bigger. They’re always clean, new looking full of colour and they advertise their company. On the other hand, you never really see trains, of course that’s because that’s because rail and roads are rarely laid side by side. The ones you do see are old and it’s difficult for the general public and smaller business to appreciate how they operate. People think of the constraints of a trains timetable, unfamiliarity and unacceptability with loading and of course they don’t come to your door (well the non-magic ones that is). So there is generally an inaccessibility of trains, especially to the SMEs, and this is something which could be addressed with integration of rail companies with truck companies – truck deliveries to train loading points.

I’ll conclude. Clearly there also need to be financial benefits for the customer. Surely rail is the more economical option, but with the more familiar truck industry taking away a bulk of business away, economies of scale cannot be successfully achieved. In this regard, it would require Government incentives and support to move a State/Nation toward rail and then reap the savings.

Pass the Red Tape

I’m running a business and employ a few people. I use spreadsheets to manage the finances and came to the conclusion that I needed to buy accounting software of some sort, if I am to have any chance of expanding. I bought a license to Quick Books Online which is $250 a year, and although it looks like it would be really good software when it’s configured, getting there has been an uphill battle. My issue isn’t with the software though, it’s with the poorly communicated legislation surrounding employment which gets me, and the lack of business level standards. I don’t want to under-allocate or over-allocate the amount of money I need to keep aside for employee entitlements. Under-allocation means I could be in for a nasty surprise, over-allocation means I was unnecessarily saving funds which could have been used for additional cash-flow and growth.

I’ve looked on both the Victorian Business and FairWork website, which explains the various rules surrounding Annual Leave, Personal Leave {Which contains a couple of subsets of leave}, Public Holidays, Jury Duty and Super. For starters, I couldn’t find a mention on any of the websites about Super. I only heard that it was 9% and I think a UK tax website mentioned that the Australian Super rate was 9% (something obscure like that). So what’s with that?

All of the leave descriptions are quite easy to understand, from an HR point of view. But when it comes to accounting, you have to deal with a mix of variables in weeks and days. For example an employee is entitled to a min. of 4 weeks of annual leave over 12 months worked. What does a week mean? Does that mean a working week – like 35hours for a person who works 7 hours a day, 5 days a week? Or do they mean 7 days? I have assumed the 35 hours. With an unspoken rule like that, we now can convert “weeks” into a common measurement: “hours”.

In QuickBooks you can input the amount of Annual Leave to credit an employee a fraction of an hour for every hour they work. Now if you use this method, how do you determine this fraction, when ordinary hours may be less in one year because they have claimed Annual Leave as time off? This is just one of the underlying complexities of this system. So what fraction should go in there? I’ve seen a few different figures in forums and those posts are from 2004. If QuickBooks is sold as an Australian product shouldn’t the vendors have a yearly standard posted on their website for such figures? Well yes, they should, but they shouldn’t be the ones to digest government information into concrete standards, the government should do that.

One final point worth exploring is the amount of money a business should set aside for an employee’s entitlements. Leave is measured in hours and is paid at the rate of pay, at the time it’s claimed. So what % of interest should be place on an employees “leave account”? What is the relationship between a payrise percentage ? What is the probability of an employee taking bereavement leave? How much should be set aside per employee? How much can this discounted as more employees are employed (due to progression toward an internal insurance like system)?

I believe that these Government websites should go further in clarifying issues such as this. For starters,

  • the Annual Leave entitlements should simply be defined as a relationship to an hour worked, not a year worked, then pro-rated. For every hour of hard work an employee puts in, they should then be entitled to a percentage of hours in time off – simple as that!

Failing that,  they should include simple dot point rules for an accounting system. It would look something like this:

  • A full time employee must be awarded (Regardless of whether they are full or part-time)
    • X% of an hour for every hour of work they perform for annual leave
      • This account can be in debt by up to 2 weeks, before unpaid leave can be forced
    • X% of an hour for every hour of work they perform for personal leave
      • This account can be in debt by up to 5 days, before unpaid leave can be forced
    • X% of an hour for every hour of work they perform for public holidays
      • An employee must be able to take every public holiday paid, regardless of account balance
  • The amount of money (M) set aside for leave should be equal to or greater than:
    • All of Leave = L
    • Current Wage Rate = W
    • Estimated Wage Increase Rate = I  (by default is X%)
    • M = L * W
    • On each anniversary of employment: M = M + (M * I)
  • OR {Alternative accounting strategies….}
  • All of the different X% come from: {Flow diagrams and formulas}

Such a well structured specification could be used across Australia, and deliver much better efficiency in the economy. Not to mention the savings, stopping every vendor and business person from having to “re-interpret” the HR rules over and over again – getting different results.

Super city: Pushing the technology boundaries

In the last article I discussed the concept of Technology Development Zones. This concept can be taken all the way with what we can call a super city. I started with this idea after thinking, what could I do with $1bn. After finishing with dreams of a house on the moon or a medieval castle in the mountains, I started jotting down some points.

Why can’t we start building an entirely new, entirely futuristic city? When you start from scratch, you can benefit from having no boundaries.

Australia so happens to be the perfect place for such an idea. A good economy. A housing shortage.

The Detail

I’ll try to keep it short

  • The city is a sky scraper – providing spectacular views for all residents. ie. 500m high, 500m wide, 40m deep, accommodating a little less than 50,000 people.
    • This reduces the human footprint, with all services contained within a single building. The only reason for people to leave the building is for recreation and farming.
  • It’s located at least 300km from Melbourne – reducing city sprawl
  • But it’ll only take you 30mins to travel 300km in any direction – see Transport below
  • Implements a “Base Luxury Standard”. A body corporate scheme, to operate on economies of scale.
    • Logistics – Cater for all logistics problems in one solution – Let’s call it a Transporter
      • A 3D “elevator” system
      • Elevator capsules which can carry up to 10 people and a few tonne
      • Can travel up/down, left/right, and back/forth
      • EG. Move from the first floor at the front of the building in the middle laterally, to the top floor at the back of the building on the left without “changing elevators”
      • Transporter capsules travel laterally along what would normally be the hallway for walking to your apartment
        • When travelling laterally to an apartment, the transporter doors and apartment doors open together
        • In an emergency, the apartment doors can be manually opened and occupants can walk down the lateral transporter shaft
          • Manual overrides are detected by the system and transporters for the entire floor are speed reduced and obstacle detection is activated to avoid collision with people.
      • Keep in mind that in an emergency, transporters should still be operational laterally, as there is no danger of dropping.
      • Transporters are not just used to transport people but also:
        • Food – Washable containers, transport prepared food, cutlery etc.. from kitchens, used containers are returned to be washed.
        • Heating / Cooling – Heat bricks or molten salts and LN2 packs for refrigeration, air conditioning and heating
          • No pipes = less cost, no maintenance
        • Water – A set of dedicated water transporters are used to fill small reservoir in each apartment
          • No pipes = less cost, no maintenance
          • Bathroom and commercial facilities do have pipes
        • General Deliveries – Furniture, clothing, presents, mail, dirty/washed clothes etc…
        • [Not Data] – That’s fixed line or radio wireless, can’t just transport hard disks, latency is much too slow 🙂
    • Food (Diet) – Set base cost for food every week which is pooled and food providers are then paid for. To start off with, fully automated systems are desirable to peel, slice, etc.., it’s possible to have a fully automated catering system which deals with 80% of meals. The final 20% is catered for by Chefs who still use machines for preprocessing – and are an additional cost. Eg. $5 / person per day for any basic meal and additional for specialist meals.
    • Climate – Instead of having thousands of small air conditioner compressor inverters in every apartment, have 3 very large and very efficient heat pumps and then efficiently transport the head/cold. Each apartment then has their own fan and climate control system where Liquid Nitrogen and Heat bricks are utilized, a simple refrigerator and freezer also run off the Liquid Nitrogen, removing two more compressors.
    • Data – Fibre runs to each apartment, and then inside is patched to different equipment. A fibre runs to the TV and Ethernet over Power is provisioned and isolated for the apartment so that every appliance and electrical device is controllable. Wireless systems are a feasible alternative.
    • Hygiene – Several banks of showers and toilets on each floor, the transporter takes you to the next available toilet or shower as required. So instead of having a toilet and shower taking up space in each apartment that only gets used 100th of the time in a day, you can be more efficient with a central bank of them. The showers and toilets are self cleaning, with minor cleaning cycles after every use and major clean cycles as required (eg. every half day).
    • Transport – Within the building, the transporter can take you anywhere, but what makes a remote city work well is fast transport to already established city centres. Mono rail is quite expensive and still relatively slow and inefficient when compared to air travel over long distances (about 800Km). There is plenty of scope for new transport ideas:
      • Air evacuated tunnel rail (Super sonic speeds without the risk and fuel of staying aloft)
      • Personal air craft (looking more like aeroplanes and possibly launched by ground based launcher, not those ridiculous artist impressions of cars with 4 loud, fuel guzzling turbine engines)
      • Automated Electronic Vehicle transport
      • Community car pool (basically like small automated buses which only travel along a particular route or highway)
    • Menial Tasks – Clothes/Dish washing is fully centralized and automated. Less tedious work for residents means more time to live – a higher quality of life.
    • Shelter – No one truly owns their space, they can either hold (pay around $50,000 for their entire life) or rent (interest of $50,000 over lifetime)

Conclusion

With a Super city, developed countries have an opportunity to push past the so-called “Modern” boundaries of today and exceed peoples expectations with a completely reinvented society and lifestyle. Super cities are not just technology test beds, they also offer citizens cheaper living for a greater quality of life, less stress – freedom from menial tasks, very short waits for transport and short travelling time.

But even developing countries could stand to benefit. The cost effectiveness of super cities and the efficient systems can help pull poor countries out of poverty. And various novelties could be redeployed into existing cities.

Technology Development Zones: Economic Development Zones for developed nations

How long can we say a combustion engine is modern? Or a toaster or microwave or stove or even lounge rooms? We can’t break a lot of traditions or social norms, but there are definately people out there willing to give it a go. I saw a documentary once about the Chinese Economic Development Zone (EDZ), from what I know, they are small geographical areas which are isolated from the macro economy and regulation, which are used to attract investment. China most famously uses such zones to help their economy grow – allowing western investors to leverage cheap Chinese labour but with western business practices. These EDZs are economic hot spots which eventually flow through the greater Chinese economy. The general idea is developing countries need EDZs to industrialise. I propose that such EDZs should never disappear, even in an advanced industrialised nation. An EDZ in a developed economy should have a technology focus rather than economic – so it is a Technology Development Zone (TDZ) and should be harnessed to further technology, processes, social refinement and regulation. Just like in developing countries the main barriers are culture and law.

I consider TDZs to be important for future seeking, “modernised” societies.  Such people can enter TDZs. There is often cultural resistance to change. A TDZ would attract people and families who are excited to consume new technologies and are open to change. A TDZ will help innovators commercialise, selling to a tight, first mover market. People live in a TDZ voluntarily. Residents of a TDZ are co-operative, possibly innovators themselves and should be able to find employment within a TDZ with a wide range of industries.  They are expected to try out new things, answer weekly questionnaires, contribute feedback and embrace change. People outside a TDZ are more likely to accept change if they have seen it in practice, and investors are also more likely to invest in an idea that can be implemented in a co-operative market. It’s quite possible for the progressive social norms of a TDZ to spread outside of a TDZ, and transform a nation to be more conducive to change.

Many amazing technologies could be developed if everyone had access to all IP. Patents aren’t evil, they are necessary to protect inventors so they may extract value from their inventions, blocking out competitors which didn’t have enough foresight. Unfortunately there are cases where patent holders sit on the patent and don’t commercialise it, with the potential consumers being the losers. There are even cases where companies buy out technology just to stop losing their traditional markets. A TDZ could offer a small community immunity from IP laws, offering tremendous innovation opportunities. IP holders would have priority to commercialise their IP within a TDZ, but if another company wants to build a product (say a fridge) which uses another companies IP (eg. Text to Speech) and the IP owner is not building the same product within the TDZ, then there should be no block. As a result all products which are going to be built for the TDZ should be approved by a Product Register, to avoid product overlap and to negotiate IP priority. I don’t consider such IP law exemptions to be mandatory to the success of a TDZ, however they would have significant benefits.

I have seen evidence where highly competitive markets can detract innovation. The latest craze – eg. iphone – although innovative is already successful in the regular market place and can dishearten local new innovation. The competitors in the smart phone market are super players such as Apple, Google, RIM and Microsoft. Thankfully Google created an open platform which is starting to reduce the monopolistic iPhone dominance. TDZ managers could help isolate fads from inside a TDZ, freeing up consumption capacity for new innovation. Technologies and products within a TDZ should be limited, where possible, to products and technologies not found outside the TDZ. Residents within a TDZ would never have the luxury of settling with a device such as an iPhone. New devices would supercede old ones. For example, the iPhone would have been expected, then the Google Nexus, then a Microsoft Phone 7 phone, and so on. In trials residents should receive significant discounts for such devices, after all they would also be expected to answer questionnaires quite frequently, and sustain a relatively high consumption of technology.

The electric car is a great example for illustrating the need of a TDZ. In a previous article I discussed the resistence to change from the oil and combustion automotive industries. If a TDZ was set up in a small city, a micro-economy could be tooled to demonstrate a society living with electric cars. From that micro-economy the idea could spread to the rest of a country and then the rest of the world. The changes would be gradual and the industries would be able to foresee the success in the TDZ and adapt for the eventual success in the greater community. Within the TDZ regulations would be different: the government could mandate all EV patents illegitimate and road laws would be relaxed, requiring engineer approval for reasonable vehicles. Consider the benefits, innovators would discover the best frontiers for the technology, such as logistics and cost-effective transport for the housebound elderly. Then the technology could move to be used for mainstream transportation use, where the single occupant of a car can be productive while travelling.

Imagine the super futuristic TDZ. There could be social change almost impossible to introduce today due to safety hysteria. You can redesign infrastructure and experiment with new city layouts. Citizens expect to be able to watch a movie or do some work while their travelling, groceries are automatically ordered and delivered, no one does dishes or cooks their own meals, or irons or washes clothes, Internet speeds are 10s of gigabits per second. Such a revolutionary change can only happen in a captive conductive society where change is embraced.

The most effective TDZ would be a purpose built city. It could be close to a capital city, so initial citizens can find work outside, while the local economy and infrastructure is developing. Such a move would require significant convictions by a politician, and cannot be expected of the first TDZ in a nation. A TDZ in itself could be too progressive for a politician of today to call. IP relaxation could have serious political ramifications, but a successful TDZ may significantly outweigh those risks. In any case, a TDZ is something like an invention that can be scaled up in stages. I live in Geelong. Geelong could be declared a TDZ precinct, this could start a demographic shift, seeing technology “thrill seekers” move to the region. At the same time a new suburb can be planned and developed as a micro-TDZ. Depending on the success of a TDZ precinct, a purpose built TDZ may be politically feasible.

The TDZ may very well play a significant part in our future. Leaving behind most traditions and inhibitions, we can begin to understand how society can better adapt to technology. Aside from the ideals of a more modern world, the economic benefits may shadow even the most optimistic expectations. What are the benefits of technology not merely available, but fully embraced by society?

In 1899, the U.S. Commissioner of Patents was famously quoted saying, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” We must not let ourselves become accustomed to the status quo, we have a lot to learn.

Update:

http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/more_class_war_as_the_government_robs_business_to_pay_bureaucrats/

Looks like my idea has been picked up in some form, too bad the team captain is going to lose the game (botch this, just like everything else)